Estimations and Wishes Don’t Fit in the Same Jar

After showing the first zombie game video clip, I noticed couple of comments about the progress. I heard one guy commenting (not on our boards, but somewhere else) how he has faced some obstacles in his project and was not happy about his game progress. Not enough time is the common thing people say. So many things to do, so little time…

Here’s something extremely crucial when it comes to dealing with time.

Estimations and wishes are two different things. If you estimate that it takes one day to get the guy moving, and if that’s not happening after 2 days – wishing faster progress won’t help anything. No matter how often you wish that “it wouldn’t take so much time” to complete your tasks, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you wish is just that – a wish.

It’s very important to face the crucial facts. I’ve been estimating my tasks in point basis. I estimate that I can get one point done per day, so that’s 5 points in one week or 10 points completed in two weeks. Then I estimate my stories (or features, or tasks) anything from 0.5 to 2.0 or more points. At the moment I have tasks such as “.44 weapon” (0.5 points) and “level room” (2.0) points (naturally I have bit more detailed explanation telling what exactly I want to have for each task). I took tasks worth 5.0 points to do this week, and that’s it. It was tempting to try to take one more 0.5 point or 1.0 point task, but that would be wishing. If I can make 5.0 points worth per week, then it’s no point trying to put 6.0-7.0 points worth tasks into one week.

And we don’t need to talk about points. We can talk about hours. If one guy can make 40 hours of work per week, then putting 50 hours worth effort is not such a good idea. Wishing that tasks that require 50 hours of work, would magically be done in 40 hours is not a good idea.

It’s better to face the harsh reality: sometimes things can take bit more time, sometimes less. It’s not a good idea to live in a fantasy world where you think you can get all the features and special stuff in the time you wished. Who knows, maybe in the history of IT projects, you actually get everything completed in less time – but I wouldn’t bet on that.

If one starts to put more work than he can handle, it might lead to work done badly. Work that needs to be redone. It might lead to lower motivation (when you cannot accomplish all the tasks you planned, since there’s always more work you can handle). It’s doomed path.

Make realistic estimations, and help people to get their work done more effectively – but don’t think that wishing for faster progress will help accomplish that.

Juuso Hietalahti